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August 24, 2010 Weblog:

Gonaives Girds for Heavy Storm Season


By Wadner Pierre

GONAIVES, Aug 2, 2010 (IPS) - Gonaives, the third largest city in Haiti, is rushing to prepare for an expected highly active hurricane season. The city was flooded by three hurricanes in the past six years - Hannah and Ike in 2008, and Jeanne, which killed at least 2,500 people in 2004.

While progress has been made in the recovery from those disasters, Gonaives - which was largely spared by the Jan. 12 earthquake - remains extremely vulnerable to new hurricanes.

Reconstruction of parts of the highway crossing the city was only recently completed. When this reporter visited Gonaives last year, the population was upset with the state of the dusty road, although Estrella, a Dominican construction company, has since fixed large portions of it.
Some locations that were routinely inundated with filthy water have been rebuilt. Last year, it might have taken a pedestrian almost 10 minutes to traverse the intersection in front of the Gonaives National Police headquarters after one hour of rain.

Belmour Myriam, a middle-aged woman, is working on drainage of the Biennac canal, which channels water from east of Gonaives to the ocean. Cleaning the canal has been a five- month project of USAID.

"I live in Baby Street," she told IPS. "Six years after the hurricane, my street is still not cleaned up. We have received no aid or attention from either local authorities or NGOs. We are alone in Baby Street."

"There is little change. We have power almost twenty-four- seven, and Avenue des Dattes is almost done. That's all," she added.

Traffic on the highway is bustling. But smaller neighbourhood streets were destroyed by the flooding. Many remain damaged, unpaved and dirty.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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